Rights report says Israel prefers settlers

Dec. 19, 2010 at 7:50 AM
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JERUSALEM, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch Sunday accused Israel of discriminating against West Bank Palestinians while offering Jewish settlers preferential treatment.

A 166-page report published Sunday, "Israel/West Bank: Separate and Unequal -- Israel's Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories," accused Israel of operating a "two-tier system" for the two populations in the West Bank and called on the United States and European Union to avoid "supporting Israeli settlement policies that are inherently discriminatory and that violate international law."

Israel has yet to officially respond to the report.

"Palestinians face systematic discrimination merely because of their race, ethnicity, and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools, and access to roads, while nearby Jewish settlers enjoy all of these state-provided benefits," said Carroll Bogert, deputy executive director for external relations at Human Rights Watch.

"While Israeli settlements flourish, Palestinians under Israeli control live in a time warp -- not just separate, not just unequal, but sometimes even pushed off their lands and out of their homes."

"While Israeli policy makers are fighting for the 'natural growth' of their illegal settlements, they're strangling historic Palestinian communities, forbidding families from expanding their homes, and making life unlivable," Bogert said.

"Palestinian children in areas under Israeli control are studying by candlelight while watching the electric lights in settlers' windows," Bogert said. "Pretending that depriving Palestinian kids of access to schools or water or electricity has something to do with security is absurd," she alleged.

The group called on the United States to curtail the amount of money it sends Israel.

"The United States, which provides $2.75 billion in aid to Israel annually, should suspend financing to Israel in an amount equivalent to the costs of Israel's spending in support of settlements, which a 2003 study estimated at $1.4 billion."

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